In the Chinese Calendar, which observes the cycles of the Sun and Moon together, February 4th is the first day of Spring. This doesn’t mean that birds are chirping and flowers blooming on this day. What this means is that Spring “Stands Up” (Li Chun, the name of this day = Stand (up) Spring). It refers to the warming trend that begins on this day. By the time we call it “the first day of spring” in the Gregorian Calendar, it is near mid-spring in the Chinese Calendar, and here you see the birds start to come out to play and some flowers bloom. Next time you are out for a walk, take a look around. You will see the trees budding already – proof of the growth and warming trend referred to in the Chinese Almanac. In addition, February 4th is the true start to the new year. New life signifies a new year.
Continuing with Red Tree Wellness’ philosophy of helping guide you on your pathway to health, this is the third in the series of newsletters that will focus on educating you about a condition that relates to that season’s element from a Chinese Medicine perspective, and how to understand it better. Our topic this month is the Spring (Wood) element meridian of the Liver and Gallbladder, and how it relates to stress and menstrual cramps.
But wait, before we get into that, we have some exciting announcements to tell you about! Red Tree Wellness is thrilled to announce our partnership with Karma Exchange! Starting February 15th to August 15th, 2012, 30% of all Facial Acupuncture Rejuvenation sessions will go toward the Sanga Primary School clean water project in Ghana! Clean water is so important to health, and we are proud to be able to offer our skills in a way that will help benefit the livelihood of those less fortunate. Facial Acupuncture, while treating for fine lines, wrinkles, acne, bags, etc, is also a holistic approach, and includes an overall assessment and treatment for the whole body. Why not make a powerful difference with your dollar by helping the health of another while taking care of your own health. Click here for more info.Book online 24/7
Red Tree Wellness is also excited to welcome Registered Acupuncturist Annie Hui Kung to the clinic! Annie is fluent in both English and Mandarin, and has a special interest in treating chronic pain and arthritis. Annie also has addition certifications in Tuina massage (Chinese Massage) as well as Facial Acupuncture Rejuvenation, and looks forward to helping people regain health and happiness. For Annie’s availability, please check our online booking calendar.
Spring is the time of the element of Wood which is related to the organ and meridian system of the Liver, and its partnered organ the Gall Bladder. In this season Wind is predominant, and in our body, like in nature, this Wind element is strong, activating, quick moving and changing. Internally, we may feel more vibrancy, as well as more irritations. The Liver, in Chinese Medicine, is the main meridian system that is in charge of the free flow of Qi (life-force) and Blood through the entire body. This free-flow of Qi and Blood circulation allow us to feel relaxed both physically and mentally, muscle or tissue tensions soften, we feel at ease and no pain. If the Liver becomes overwhelmed, such as lots of demands on moving circulation smoothly, e.g. high stress, chronic injures (scar tissue), low energy and vitality to push the circulation, then the Liver cannot keep our body physically and mentally relaxed as well. We then see things like tight and tense muscles, body aches and pains, headaches, cramps, irritability and anger, and trouble sleeping. At this time of year, we are dealing with a surge in the energy of nature helping the Liver, however it can also make it over work, which in turn blocks up circulation because it is flooding the system. This all depends on the balances going on in your body. Imagine a river that starts to slow down because it is getting low in strength or low in substance. Or it is flooding because it is hyper-active. This is what we are trying to balance out when we are trying to balance the flow of Qi & Blood and calm the Liver. Thus, the goal of this season is to promote the free, calm, easy and smooth flow of energy. As you can see, the Liver has a big role in our body and affects many conditions. To pick one condition to talk about this season is challenging. However, I have picked one that most I think many women can relate to (sorry men): menstrual cramps.
Menstrual cramps to many women can be debilitating, and the pain can go so far as to cause vomiting and fainting. The Liver, being the main meridian in charge of the free flow of circulation, is the main culprit here. When a women’s body is getting ready to shed the lining, it gathers the energy and substances together in preparation to opening the gates. This is the pre-menstrual phase, where woman can experience more irritability, moodiness, and sometimes light cramps already, as energy is building up to a point high in tension, and needs to be released. Once the periods beings, this tension is released, and the mood relaxes as the circulation has allowed this to relax. If a women experiences painful cramps, this is a signal that the Liver is having a tough time moving the Blood, thus allowing too much congestion and blockage, which we feel physically as tension, cramps and pain. Now let’s be clear here, that a little bit of cramping on the first 2 days is normal, about a 2 to 3 out of 10, since there has been a build up of energy, that needs a day or too in order to get through the gates that just opened up. Putting a hot pack on your abdomen to help move circulation and relax the tissues can help. Also eating leafy greens helps the Liver flow freely, and sour tasting food. Lastly, try some gentle massage, and light exercise to keep things unblocked and flowing. If you suffer from cramps that are debilitating, you may need more help with Acupuncture or Herbal medicine to get your body back to a stronger state where it can function better on its own.
Speaking about stress, we have a new seminar coming up that teaches you about stress from the Chinese Medicine perspective, acupressure points, and a hypnotherapy exercise to relax the mind and body. Interested to learn more? Taught in conjunction with Jenn King, Clinical Hypnotherapist, the seminar will also inform you of food and diet tips, and the myths of hypnotherapy and how beneficial it is in calming our bodies. The seminar is on Thursday March 15th, 2012 from 5:30pm to 7pm. Spots are limited so sign up early to reserve your spot! Go to our Continuing Education page for more information.
Enjoy the warmth and growth of the Qi of spring!
In good health,
Sonia F. Tan
BA, BA(H), DTCM, R.Ac, R.TCM.P.